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Which Compact? - big zoom & maybe viewfinder

DJT75

Distinguished Member
I made a mistake last year, I bought a DSLR.

After using a few Canon IXUS (the last being IXUS 200is) I realised everyone else was taken nice snaps of their families etc and ours were always blurred or terrible. I decided to get a decent camera and after some research I opted for the Nikon D3100. It's beginners guide swayed me.

It was great for a few weeks, a little holiday and a trip to the zoo etc, but I then got fed up carrying it around. I'm not a photography enthusiast, I just want some nice memories. I don't have time or much interest on learning to use it properly, it's too big to carry around, to get greater zoom I'd have to buy bigger lenses, which means even more to carry around, and I can't really let the kids loose with it. I've got some great snaps but those are just in the house etc. We went to the Lake District over Easter to stay with family, I didn't even remember to take it! That's how much I use it.

It's still under warranty so I'm hoping I'll get a decent price for it, but I need to replace it with something that fits in a pocket, has a great zoom and takes nice pictures. I possible might want a viewfinder, I found I only used that with the D3100 rather than the screen, but maybe not essential.

System and Bridge cameras are too big, so I'm just going compact here.

Looking around I've narrowed my initial search down to these two:
Sony HX50 (£199 in John Lewis). A huge x30 Optical zoom but no viewfinder
Lumix LF1 (£239 online). Only x7 Optical zoom but one of the few I've found with a viewfinder + good reviews. I think I'd like a zoom over 20 really

Any info on these or others that I should consider would be appreciated

thanks
 

snerkler

Distinguished Member
Unfortunately for you requirements (compact with 20x zoom plus) you're never going to get the best image quality as you'll be looking at cameras with sensors around 1/2.3". In this range I'd say just go and have a look at a few and see which you prefer in terms of ease of use and features.
 

DJT75

Distinguished Member
OK thanks.

Ignoring the zoom for a moment, and concentrating on picture quality, what should I be looking for and how does the Lumix LF1 fair?

thanks
 

AMc

Distinguished Member
Ignoring the viewfinder - which are few and far between on compact cameras - I did some research and was recommended these cameras in my thread here which fit your zoom requirement.
Pocket compact camera <£200 | AVForums

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX300
Sensor 1/2.3
Aperture f3.5-6.5
Price £180 (John Lewis)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ40
Sensor 1/2.33 inch
Aperture F3.3 - 6.4
Price £210ish

If you decide you can live without a massive zoom then there are others in my thread which are worth considering. It's worth remembering that with modern megapixel counts you can crop a large image quite heavily and still end up with a great image to print.
I ended up with a Fuji XF1 - which is an excellent camera at a bargain price from PCworld online.

I would also take a look at Steves Best Cameras - Steves Digicams who cover the less ambitious compacts that the "serious" photography sites don't bother with.
 

DJT75

Distinguished Member
Great, thanks, I'll take a look at that lot now.

I just nipped over to Costco to pick up some stuff and whereas they normally have a load of cameras there were only 4 or 5 on display. They had the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ55 for £204
 

snerkler

Distinguished Member
Good IQ is mainly down to the sensor size and lens (of the course the photographer is most important). Compact cameras have very small sensors as a general rule as already mentioned, no bigger than your smartphone. There are a number of compact cameras with larger sensors, such as 1/1.7" and 2/3'. Whilst these will be better they'll not be staggeringly better. The Sony Rx100 and RX100II have 1" sensors and IQ is very good and will be much better in low light, however the zoom is only a 3.6x optical zoom (100mm eq). That's the drawback of having a larger sensor, you can't have big zooms (on a compact) with big sensors. This is why when you look at 600mm lenses for DSLR's they are huge to cater for the large sensor.

The LF1 looks a nice camera, but it's only a 1.1.7" sensor so not going to be that much better in IQ than the average compact. Unfortunately it's always a compromise.
 

DJT75

Distinguished Member
Thanks, that's very useful information. I understand a lot more about what I'm looking at now.

So reading up on what I have already, the IXUS 200is. That has a 1/2.3" sensor, so why's it so bad at the most basic of pictures? We've been to kids parties before and every single picture has come out blurred.

It has a x5 optical zoom, and I know I'd like more that that in the future too (zoos, safari parks etc)
 

snerkler

Distinguished Member
Without looking at your shots, and your EXIF info (camera settings) it's hard to say. Whilst cameras can have the same sensor size, they can of course have different processors which can make a difference (and usually newer tech means better pics), but I just didn't want to confuse you with too much info. That being said, you shouldn't notice a big difference.

It might be a case of the person using the camera in this case, and this can make a huge difference. It's fair to say someone knowing what they're doing with a compact can produce better images than a numpty using a top end DSLR.

I took these recently with my Sony HX9v compact camera, what do you think of these. Are they good or bad in your opinion (Be honest, don't spare my feelings ;))

DSC04500 by TDG-77, on Flickr

DSC04489 by TDG-77, on Flickr
 
Last edited:

DJT75

Distinguished Member
Assuming the background is supposed to be blurred :), they're good. Far better than I (A numpty) could get with a DSLR. :)
 

snerkler

Distinguished Member
Assuming the background is supposed to be blurred :), they're good. Far better than I (A numpty) could get with a DSLR. :)
Thanks, just edited the post as I posted the same pic twice :facepalm:

What I'm getting at here is that compacts can produce very nice images in the right conditions, and you can get some amount of background blur with the right settings (yes the blur was deliberate ;)). Where they struggle most is in low light as the sensor can't capture as much light, and also apertures tend to be smaller (restricting light).

If you're happy enough with images like this and you tend to shoot in good light then most of the current compacts will be fine. The successor to mine is the Sony HX50 which has a whopping 30x zoom.
 

DJT75

Distinguished Member
Which is the exact camera at the top of my list that I mentioned in the first post.

My wife's uncle has the Lumix LF1 and although he took some nice pictures of the kids last weekend, I think the zoom would annoy me

So HX50 still top of the list, next stop is Jessops to have a play..
cheers
 

AMc

Distinguished Member
If you want to take indoor shots of kids (fast moving subject) in low light you're going to need good ISO performance at 1600 or even higher, a fast shutter speed maybe 1/250th of a second and a nice bright lens - the lower the lower of the 2 "F" numbers the better it will be at the wide end. The lower the "F" number at the other end the better it will be at full zoom.
The XF1 I've just got has a F1.8-4.9 lens and a big sensor so it should be good at indoor photography without the flash - but I've not tried it yet!
 

snerkler

Distinguished Member
If you want to take indoor shots of kids (fast moving subject) in low light you're going to need good ISO performance at 1600 or even higher, a fast shutter speed maybe 1/250th of a second and a nice bright lens - the lower the lower of the 2 "F" numbers the better it will be at the wide end. The lower the "F" number at the other end the better it will be at full zoom.
The XF1 I've just got has a F1.8-4.9 lens and a big sensor so it should be good at indoor photography without the flash - but I've not tried it yet!
Only a 4x zoom though :( Sensor is big ish ;)
 

SanPedro

Prominent Member
My personal favourite would be the Sony RX100. It doesn't have that big a zoom, but it does have a bigger sensor than any other compact. And it has a wide aperture at the wide angle end, which means it's great in low light

Image quality can rival a DSLR... Loads of sample images on flickr: Flickr Search: rx100

I had a Fuji bridge camera with a massive zoom, which was rarely used at the telephoto end. And even when it was the results were poor. I found that it's tricky to hold it steady enough at a focal length equal to 700mm, except in blazing sunshine.

The high quality sensor and high 20Mp of the Sony means you can easily crop images to get closer.

And the camera itself is tiny, shirt pocket sized.
 

snerkler

Distinguished Member
My personal favourite would be the Sony RX100. It doesn't have that big a zoom, but it does have a bigger sensor than any other compact. And it has a wide aperture at the wide angle end, which means it's great in low light

Image quality can rival a DSLR... Loads of sample images on flickr: Flickr Search: rx100

I had a Fuji bridge camera with a massive zoom, which was rarely used at the telephoto end. And even when it was the results were poor. I found that it's tricky to hold it steady enough at a focal length equal to 700mm, except in blazing sunshine.

The high quality sensor and high 20Mp of the Sony means you can easily crop images to get closer.

And the camera itself is tiny, shirt pocket sized.
I agree about the image quality being very good, but the OP wants a longer zoom.
 

SanPedro

Prominent Member
I agree about the image quality being very good, but the OP wants a longer zoom.
True... but I just think 'megazoom' is the new 'megapixel' ie more=better. Which isn't always the case.

It's a marketing gimmick, and one that I fell for when I bought my Fuji HS20.

Id just ask the OP to check for a moment whether a megazoom is really required, or at least decide which is more important. i didn't like the low light performance and slow auto-focus on the HS20. The RX100 would be streets ahead...
 

DJT75

Distinguished Member
I think I need to look at the RX100 anyway. I know I said I'd like a big zoom but that was before I realised the other sacrifices.

What is out there that you consider a perfect middle ground? Bigger than average sensor and more than x5 zoom?

Also, and smallish bridge cameras that would help fulfil both?

Many thanks
 

AMc

Distinguished Member
I agree that the rx100 is a great camera. It's also a hell of a lot more than £140 for the xf1 even secondhand ;). I've seen the xf1 for sale now at £280 so I consider it a bargain.

Sorry I can't recommend a bridge and tbh I think you're straying back towards the larger/complicated area there where a csc might be a better bet.
 

snerkler

Distinguished Member
I think I need to look at the RX100 anyway. I know I said I'd like a big zoom but that was before I realised the other sacrifices.

What is out there that you consider a perfect middle ground? Bigger than average sensor and more than x5 zoom?

Also, and smallish bridge cameras that would help fulfil both?

Many thanks
I personally agree with SanPedro, it's amazing how little you actually use the zoom. I've been down the line of having large zoom cameras, and had a 50x bridge last year (1200mm equivalent :eek:). I loved the idea of getting in close to stuff, and having the flexibility. However, I wasn't happy with image quality and so chose to get a DSLR. I bought a 16-50mm zoom (24-75mm equivalent), which is less than the Sony RX100, and I use this lens more than any other. I do have a telephoto, but rarely use it. I've just been on holiday and just took the 16-50mm and didn't ever find I needed the telephoto. Well, there was one shot as you could see the atlas mountains from our balcony so used the compact my wife took on holiday (the Sony HX9v with 16x zoom up to 385mm). However, the images were no better than me taking a shot with my 16-50mm and then cropping it down to the same frame (my Sony A77 has a 24mp sensor so plenty of room to crop). The RX100 has a 20MP camera so you could still crop quite heavily.

Having made the mistakes I've made over the past couple of years with camera I would always opt for image quality above zoom, and pretty much above everything else. That being said you have to be happy using your camera otherwise you won't use it and it's pointless. Therefore you need to make sure you're happy with the layout and the menus etc. I'm actually toying with 2 cameras at the moment as a 'always have on me' camera, and although one has slightly sharper images I'm not 100% comfortable with the dial position etc and my go for the other if I prefer the layout when I finally manage to get my hands on it.

My point is that whilst image quality is vitally important it's not the only thing to consider.
 

SanPedro

Prominent Member
Not that many large sensor compacts out there. Nor bridge cameras either.
The new Canon G1X Mark 2 might be worth a look. It's more money than the Sony but does have an even bigger sensor... APSC sized in this case. And it's still fairly pocketable.

The issue with bigger sensors and zoom length is that the zoom on a bigger sensor needs to be physically much larger than the same focal length on a small sensor camera. Hence why bridge cameras can have 50X zoom lenses. The same focal length on a DSLR would be over a foot long at least and weigh a ton.

More thoughts... The Panasonic GM1, with a small zoom could be a contender... small body on a micro 4/3 sensor. I know the OP mentioned 'no system cameras'. But this thing is tiny. And you can add zoom lenses later if you get the bug. Or a bigger body, for more serious work. So you get best of both worlds...

Here's some cameras side by side. You can change the view to see lens size as well.

Compact Camera Meter
 

DJT75

Distinguished Member
Just been to look at a load of them. I think I'm down to 4.

Sony RX100 - the most expensive but the safest option
Lumix LF1 - good all rounder but maybe still expensive for what it is
Sony WX300 - hadn't seen this one before, it's tiny! If I choose to go zoom over PQ it's this one

Fuji XF1 - I've not seen this one in the flesh yet, But I've just had a play with the XQ1 which was best in your hand by far (the Sony's have the video button right where I want to leave my thumb). £130 means I really should consider this one.


What do you think is a far selling price for my Nikon D3100. 11 months old, still under warranty and barely used?
 

SanPedro

Prominent Member
Just been to look at a load of them. I think I'm down to 4.

Sony RX100 - the most expensive but the safest option
Lumix LF1 - good all rounder but maybe still expensive for what it is
Sony WX300 - hadn't seen this one before, it's tiny! If I choose to go zoom over PQ it's this one

Fuji XF1 - I've not seen this one in the flesh yet, But I've just had a play with the XQ1 which was best in your hand by far (the Sony's have the video button right where I want to leave my thumb). £130 means I really should consider this one.


What do you think is a far selling price for my Nikon D3100. 11 months old, still under warranty and barely used?

For a quick image comparison there's a neat tool on DPREVIEW.com that allows you to compare cameras at different ISO settings using the same image and conditions and using light and dim light settings.

Here's the sony, fuji and panny compare to a Canon 5D : Studio shot comparison: Digital Photography Review

You can change the ISO settings to see how they perform under low light/high ISO. Most cameras look great at ISO 100. Push it to 3200 and the difference is massive.
 

hemaroyd

Banned
Also consider that it is generally accepted that Fuji cameras have super jpegs straight out of camera. Most quality compacts have a raw option and all things considered a small increase in image quality is attainable by shooting raw and 'developing' the image in raw conversion software. So if you want to shoot jpeg Fuji are well worth considering.
 

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